Change: The Power in the Periphery to Make Big Things Happen. Little, Brown & Co., 2021.

Damon Centola

A scientific exploration of how beliefs, behaviors, and ideas spread through social networks for a popular audience. A big think book that will delight fans of Malcolm Gladwell, Chip and Dan Heath, and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s NUDGE.

Most of what we know about how ideas spread comes from bestselling authors who give us a compelling picture of a world, in which “influencers” are king, “sticky” ideas “go viral,” and good behavior is “nudged” forward. The only problem is that the world they describe is a world where information spreads, but beliefs and behaviors stay the same. It is a world of simple contagions, which spread quickly to everyone, but do not have any lasting impact on what we think or how we live.

When it comes to transforming behaviors and beliefs, the dynamics of change are different: beliefs and behaviors are not transmitted from person to person in the simple way that a virus is. The real story of social change is more complex. When we are exposed to a new idea, our social networks guide our responses in striking and surprising ways.

Drawing on deep-yet-accessible research and fascinating examples from business, sports, health, lifestyle, and politics, Change presents a groundbreaking and paradigm-shifting new science for understanding what drives change, and how we can change the world around us.